Union President urging Province reconsider changes to Environmental Protection Act


Published October 2, 2020 at 8:50 pm


Warren Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is urging Premier Doug Ford to reconsider changes to the Environmental Protection Act (EPA).

According to Thomas, inspectors with the Ministry of the Environment are concerned about changes to Section 14 of the EPA—part of Bill 132: Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019—which significantly reduce their oversight and enforcement powers, and pose a threat to the health of Ontarians and their environment.

“More than unnecessary, Bill 132 is dangerous,” Thomas said. “Front-line inspectors are worried about being handcuffed.  Things could end badly down the road if the government does not listen to our members.

“Bill 132 puts citizens at serious risk,” he added. “You can wave paper around and complain about red tape. But that so-called red tape is a vital protection that keeps Ontarians from getting sick and dying. And the last thing anyone wants is another Walkerton.”

Further, according to Thomas, the Province has implemented measures that prioritize financial gain over the environment, and erode environmental protection, including cancelling renewable energy projects; weakening conservation programs; diluting endangered species protections; implementing changes to hazardous waste management; scaling back climate change commitments; introducing non-governmental, third-party inspectors; stripping powers from the Environmental Commissioner; removing stakeholder engagement in environmental assessments; and temporarily suspending public input through the Environmental Registry of Ontario.

“As front-line workers, we’re proud of our role in protecting human health and the natural environment,” Shawn Burr, co-chair of the environment ministry’s Employee Relations Committee, said in the same release.

“We’ve taken note of all these program and regulatory changes—and we’re extremely worried. We’re going to have greater difficulty addressing complaints and issues related to pollution, putting Ontarians directly in harm’s way,” he continued.

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